Roza Terenzi - Modern Bliss (Planet Euphorique, 2020)
A series of beautifully considered cross references and cosmic dreamy soundscapes make up this mesmerising debut LP from the Australian producer.
These days electronic producers who really seem to stand out are those who blend and morph the music they make within the boundaries of both originality and self-referential ness. Now more than ever, new records that land most successfully have a truly intrinsic sound, wherein the producers behind it have made it their duty to blend a set of sounds together in which the contemporary sound feels reflected and pushed forward at the same time, but there lies an inherent underlying nod to the past and all its glories. Like a roadmap to all the landmarks that persist throughout the ages, music which achieves this duality often deliver up the most exciting of sounds, a feeling that resonates within music lovers who appreciate the quality of the music as much as they do the moments where we are transported backwards or forwards in time. For many in these contemporary times, the art of fluidity in relation to beats and melodies has become more paramount than ever, and in turn this gives over another angle into the creation of dance music, where stylings and features from varying spectrums become streamlined into a new invigorating sound. This kind of hybrid cross over has become the new method in which to express oneself in this day and age, but it also allows for the continual pushing of creative boundaries, in that with the area expanding all the time, it allows many to inhibit its world, with the new landscape looking very bright and refreshing indeed. Here we can enjoy the multitude of talented producers who seek to engage with the roads that lie out in front of us, crafting doorways and channels into new areas that lead to constant renewal but also innovations in sound design, content and composition. The pairing of technique with style, alongside a healthy dosage of atmosphere and tone, gives these producers as much scope as possible to forge their own identities within this new framework, and those who stand out the most seem at one with their musical creations. The visions that shine through, the musical that captivates as much as it furthers our own musical passions, the tracks that engage as much as mystify. Here we find our place of understanding and knowledge, furthering our relationship with the music we all know and love, but always looking to increase our engagements with the sounds found within. Who knows where this intrigue will land us.
Katie Campbell, largely known for her Roza Terenzi name, has been putting her music out there for us to engage with for a while now, and her sound is one that speaks volumes for its stylistic qualities but also its unbelievable depth and craftsmanship. Her sound in some ways defies being put in a box, as she draws much from the frequent evolutions of dance music from the past two decades and streamlines it effortlessly into her own vision, where the melodic tendencies of Detroit techno and progressive house come up against the delicate layered drumming patterns of the former alongside breakbeats and seemingly a lot all in between. Its the kind of music that creates moments for those who wonder within her sonic realm, where flickering elements radiate amongst a sea of powerful emotive and rhythmic sequences, a deft and intelligent blend of sounds that make up a ingenius and brilliant end product. In many ways, the music she pushes, be it in her DJ sets or from the studio, all interlink well with one another, a reflection on her as a devotee to the ideals of a rounded sound, but always with an eye on how this enriching environment can be expanded upon. Dance music will always benefit with artists like Campbell being found within it, as someone who blends and delves within her music, always retaining an eye for detail and the inter connectivity that exists between genre. As Terenzi, Campbell has funnelled much of her creative mindset, with a string of widely celebrated releases that are beloved by many for their diverse and blended sound, with the music operating on numerous plains in order to deliver its message of goodness and wholesomeness through the dance. With many great EPs to pick from, our favourites include her 2017 debut, 'The "O.G." EP', from 2017; the amazing 'Weakest Link' EP from 2018; the utterly superb 'Oscillate Tracks 001' joint EP with the equally amazing D Tiffany, that landed in 2018; the ever evolving 'Mood EP', that arrived in the same year; perhaps our personal favourite, the phenomenal 'Mwah EP', that also came out in 2018; and finally, the really enjoyable 'Let's Ride' EP, that was a real highlight of last year. Another record to check out is from another one of her aliases, Gloworm, with the debut for this name coming out last year in the form of the deep and chuggy 'Glo With The Floooo' EP, which is also well worth checking out. All in all, Campbell has already got us hooked on her blend of techno tinged house/acid/breakbeaty goodness, and its a formula she keeps tinkering and amending with each release, and by working within this blended realm her sound has a real sense of purpose and drive to it, and that train of thought runs deep within the music she releases. The threads that tie it all together make for a compelling run back through her discography, and in that sense she achieves a beautiful sense of progression that goes from strength to strength with each release. If you enjoy your tunes beaty, melodically diverse and always switching it up, then a meander back through the Terenzi discography is throughly recommended.
So it seems like the perfect time for Terenzi to conjure up her debut LP, entitled 'Modern Bliss', which is the subject of todays review. Its always interesting to see how an artist adapts the sounds of their various EPs together into a long play, which we have seen a far amount of this year, but Terenzi applies that vision that has served her so well up until this point with a dazzling record that doesn't just expand the musical universe in which she accommodates and nurtures, but new worlds flourish and prosper in this new expanded marvel. An album that delivers her trademark sound and then some, spread over a series of expertly delivered and considered tracks, moving between the motions and tempos with new moods and tones, feels and energies. So lets take a little dive in!
Up first comes 'Jungle In The City', and we are welcomed with a mid level unassuming melodic progression. Its chirpy up lifting nature takes you to the moment where you stand on your balcony, coffee and cig in hand, as the urban environment around you awakens into the new day, and as an opener, the feeling is absolutely perfect. The chord progression is joined by additional percussive elements, that build up subtly over time before the deep set kicks come into play, which signals a new transition within the song. This allows for new links in the melodic chain to weave and flow through the song's life force, with additional chords and vocal samples abounding between the quick developing density of layers within the sound. The rolling nature of the track starts to hit like radiate sunshine, awakening us to the plethora of ideas that will quickly begin to come towards us on this record, with the track simply continuing on its tonal exercise in delivering high quality textures and overall mood. As openers go, it sets up everything else to come very well indeed. 'Elevate' arrives next, and we are greeted by similar melodic explorations, but the tempo has been upped a notch. The drums are quick into the mix this time, their quick fire nature underpinning the swelling nature of the melodic features, with the very deep bass line slotting in very well with this morphing soundscape. Its testament to the sound design on this one that everything slots in and flows so well with each other, the base of the track already displaying such a spectrum of features even before any melodic notions have really taken hold. When the light full chords float into view on top, its pretty magical, like another layer that the others were waiting for all this time has finally come back after a long journey away. The progression is allowed to run through a couple of times, before the break down demonstrates some beautiful slides into more informal key structures and cosmic sounds, which is allowed to really extend as a feature for quite a few bars. The chords make a resurgence, their presence warm and full of passion, making the machine lead sub base of the track work over time in order to match their simmering intensity. A track you can get lost in very much, indeedo. Up next comes the title track, that features American producer Ivy Barkakati, and we begin in immediate full on melodic territories, with the exciting feeling of where this track might end up. The kick then slides its way into our view, crafting a real sense of swing and progression, with the vocals delivering an ethereal series of lyrics that compliment the evolving music underneath flawlessly. The beats move between breakbeat segments before moving into full on 90s progressive house territories, with the bass line worming its way into our hearts and minds. The key work is delicate and light, never swallowing up the song too much, but providing that little bit extra that makes the song keep ticking over, with the transitions between varying song structures coming across so very strong with this cut. The vocals hit hard, the progressions do absolute wonders with elevating the mood, and the rhythmic considerations are masterfully done, crafting an experience that is spellbinding and euphoric, a soundscape to really invest your soul into.
'Yo-Yo' pops up next, and once more the drums signal a new kind of energy beginning to emerge. The feels that cascade into view is very much within the Electro spectrum, with the reverb drumming patterns on the higher end giving life and meaning to the kicks and snares that groove in the lower ends. The bass line grooves right through the heart of the track, its tenacity and feverish energy driving the track into new realms of excellence, with light melodic sequences permeating through the clouds above. The track takes a minute to slow down, the drums moving out as the rhythmic lines of the bass and key sequences are joined by hearty chords that chime and sing on top. It gives the track that kind of cross referential edge, combining some ludicrous drumming patterns with really engaging melodic ideas, where concept meets audial delight, and we are all for it. A track of great power, and perhaps responsibility, bliss. 'That Track (Rewired Mix)' comes on next, and we are greeted with the liquid like grooves of a Korg (perhaps?) synth doing its thing, crafting an intriguing acid orientated line. The sequence quickly gathers steam, with kicks and snares joining in from the peripheries, and before you know it the kick hits damn fucking hard! and suddenly lift off is achieved. The track moves within this structure for a few bars, before the vocal line begins its looping adventure, adding yet another side to the multitude of character displayed on this record. The next feature to appear is the chord sequence, that fills up the space behind the drums with gusto, but in many ways its how the drums continually adapt to these transitions. Their ever evolving nature is what makes this track move forward with such momentum, down from the dynamics of the kicks through to the morph like nature of the cymbals and claps, its superbly achieved. 'Spiral' comes into view next, and the energy moves down a notch for this one. Now we enter the comos territory of the record, and after all that power it seems fitting to flow right into a more dubby environment. The soundscape is inhibited with numerous features, ones that feel up close, others that feel far away, a few that seem tangible but others that seem a bit more ethereal. The drums remain excellent as always, providing a loose feel that allows for spaces to be continually filled with all manner of interesting textural synths and technological sounds. In relation to rhythm, its slow and steady but not without the urgency that persisted with previous cuts, and in that lies the magic of it all. To create momentum and a sense of direction doesn't require speed necessarily, its how you conjure up that forward journey through flow and creative expressionism, and Terenzi demonstrates that here endlessly. We haven't even discussed the ideals of escapism that radiate from this track, the notion of a spell binding feel that swirls around our head with a very special kind of mystique.
Towards the business end now, with 'Total Eclipse' kicking off the first of the last three songs. The atmosphere is immediately engaging, with the drumming sequence creating once more that inherent dynamism that exists throughout this record, with the bass line jumping on board for good measure. The track remains in full flow by this point, and the moment when the melody hits is pretty special indeed. The sprinkling of keys lightly touches the deep set chords that move underneath, creating another star gazing moment as we leave the material world behind for a meander through the one unravelling in this track. The chuggy acid lines start their journey to prominence, as Terenzi looks to craft continual transitions into new vibes, which provides a compelling contrast to the enriching melodic exercise that existed in the opening part of the track. The tune just builds from here, and its quite the trip. Up next comes 'Eternal Lust', and the opening sequence is once more an exercise in layered melodic cosmic explorations. This set up leads directly into another heavy hitting percussive structure, where the kick slams right through the heart of the track, with the delicate melodic features keeping pace very nicely indeed. The vocal sample adds yet another compelling feature, with all manner of computer sounds weaving around the light synths and compulsive beat structure. As fast tempo tracks go, there's so much here to get within, things and features that turn to you, call out your name, keeping a healthy narrative and dialogue going between the listener and the music. The track keeps up this percussive intensity, never deviating from its end goal of achieving spiritual moments, moments that are hard to quantify, its perhaps easier to give yourself over to the sounds. At 8 minutes long, you never feel that anything drags at all, as Terenzi does much to keep the interest and momentum going, with switches between percussive workouts and full melodic layering to keep our eyes set to the stars and hearts firmly on the dancefloor. To finish up, we have 'My Reality Cheque Bounced', which features DJ Zozi (aka the legendary producer D.Tiffany!), and we couldn't think of a more fitting end to a record full of delight and intrigue. The vibe is immediately up front, the kick partnering up with a little key sequence that rapidly swirls just above, with the track moving into a soundscape populated with all manner of engaging and interesting sounds. The whirlwind of sounds is immediate and intoxicating, with the bass line only aligning the track to us even more, the infectious rhythms and laid back melodic features doing so much to immerse us in the sound. The track looks to focus on transitions between beats and breaks, and its pulled off to maximum effect, with the bass lines doing much of the melodic work, fitting in very nicely indeed with the sounds and styles of the drumming patterns. Its the power song needed when the energy needs a lift, but the track is inherently much more than that, with these two talented producers really flexing their capabilities when it comes to composition, sequencing, and the art of the transition, something which comes across so strong on this record overall. The craft of seas of sounds is quite difficult to pull off, to combine so many elements into a cohesive experience remains in the hands of the few who aim to pull it off, and this record demonstrates that across the board, and then some.
As debuts go, this record is truly something else. We all knew Terenzi from her previous EPs, that really showcased her broad sound, and all the flows from these records seem to come of age on this debut long play. A series of beautifully composed tracks that touch on so much that has arrived in the past few years, and reflective of this current crop of producers who look to blend as much as they compose and craft. The tracks are often overflowing with great ideas, and to be able to see how all these varying lines of enquiry come together is something Terenzi is inherently brilliant at. The drum work should get a mention as being supremely impressive, but its the manner in which she blends this with very considered melodic work that is so so good. The variety, passion and technical prowess all align for a record with bags of character, tons of tone and rhythm, and a identity that remains solely Roza Terenzi. A real stunner of a record.
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